What’s the Best Open Source CMS?

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Guy designing websiteCMS stands for Content Management System. A CMS lets you update and manage your website without needing a wealth of technical know-how. The open source community is a software community of developers that contribute their time freely to developing software for everyone.

What does a CMS do?

Before we decide what the best open source content management system, or CMS, is we should probably explain what a CMS is. A CMS differentiates itself from a standard website in that it lets the user manage and update their own content. Put quite simply, it prevents a website owner without the technical know-how from having to hire a webmaster or a skilled technical employee. A CMS does this by translating, similar to word processors such as Microsoft Word, what the user enters in English, or in layman’s terms, into the technical code that gets things done on the backend.

Why Open Source?

The advantage of the open source community is that it allows anyone to contribute to a software project. The source code, or technical code that lets a program do what it does on your PC, is open, which means anyone can see it and contribute to it. The alternative is closed source, or proprietary software, that is developed by teams of employees such as those at Microsoft, for profit. The open source community not only allows more people to contribute to a project, it also enables the sharing of ideas among a greater pool of developers, and allows users to get involved as well, submitting feedback and suggestions and helping software improve. We tend to feel that the open source movement is more efficient than the closed source one, especially when it comes to finding and fixing bugs (problems or errors in software).

Show Me What a CMS Does That’s so Great

A CMS makes your website content management life easy, or at least, it should. For example, if you wish to insert an image into a page, you can simply click an insert image button, browse for the file you want to upload, and hit an upload button to have the image inserted into your page. What took you three commands to do in a CMS would have taken you several lines of code in web markup and programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and PHP, not to mention the need to hire a web designer or programmer.

Okay, now that you know what a CMS is and why open source is a good option, which open source CMS should you choose?

What Is the Best Open Source CMS?

Content Management Systems abound on the Web today. And recently, the open source movement has created some of the most powerful and well supported Content Management Systems. The top three we are going to discuss in this article are: Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.

We Rock Your Web Editor’s Choice for Best Open Source CMS: Drupal

Our pick for best open source Content Management System goes to Drupal. Founded by Dries Buytaert, Drupal is one of the fastest and largest growing CMS support communities. While initially Drupal was not considered to be the most user-friendly CMS, it has come a long way since then. Initially (and still) one of the most powerful Content Management Systems, what would keep Drupal back from mass adoption was lack of marketing. Drupal was written by geeks for geeks and the mass-market was largely ignored. But since then, Drupal has gained in popularity, and many Fortune 500 companies are running Drupal websites. Drupal can be considered one of the most stable CMS options out there.

Drupal’s Fiercest Competitor: Joomla

Joomla, on the other hand, had an interface that looked slick and was easy to navigate. However, it was not nearly as powerful or customizable as Drupal. Since then, Joomla has caught up, offering many add-on modules that are just as powerful as the Drupal counterparts. At the same time, Drupal is now easier to use and install and has a growing user base of non-technical users.

The Blogging Champ: WordPress

The final contender, WordPress, started exclusively as a blogging platform. It is by far the most out-of-the-box user-friendly and widely used of the three CMS systems. And while it may have started out catering to bloggers, WordPress now has enough add-ons to turn it into a full-fledged Content Management System.

Which Open Source CMS is For You?

The Best CMS for you is going to depend largely on what you need it for. For quick and easy blogging, and for a hosted option (i.e. you don’t need to secure your own domain name and hosting provider), choose WordPress. For a CMS that starts out light weight but gives you the most expansion options and lets you look under the blood and turn it into your own customized powerhouse (including mass content categorization and e-commerce capabilities), choose Drupal. For those that want an interface that looks great right out of the box, take a look at Joomla. Remember, that all of these CMS options will give you plenty to work with, and all of them enjoy the support of large user communities.

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